At a time when the manufacturing sector is undergoing significant challenges with thousands of jobs going overseas as major manufacturers relocate offshore and Australia's overall unemployment rate sitting at about 6.4 per cent, there is growing concern amongst analysts and economists that resource-rich Australia could tumble into a recession as early as this year. This worrying trend has been manifesting strongly in previous manufacturing strongholds, such as my electorate where motoring giant Ford Motor will shut its manufacturing operations in 2016 and unemployment in Broadmeadows is currently at 27 per cent. The local retail sector is feeling the decline also with combined sales at the Broadmeadow Shopping Centre down 13 per cent in 12 months through June compared with three years ago.In light of this, I want to speak today about a very important report that has been recently released. The report is called the Food and Beverage Growth Plan Melbourne's North and it is a master plan for developing food manufacturing in Melbourne's north region. The report was originally commissioned by the RDA Northern Melbourne and NORTH Link.
Friday 20 March, is National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. I will be attending the launch of the booklet A safer nation for every generation, along with the CEO of the Bully Zero Australia Foundation, Oscar Yildiz; the Victorian Minister for Police and Minister for Corrections, Wade Noonan; and representatives of Corrections Victoria and the Jesuit Community College. This very important event is part of an ongoing program that addresses the issue of cybersafety. It addresses the growing need to do all we can to protect our communities, our families and our children from the often tragic consequences of cyberbullying. Too often, online harassment has had devastating consequences. For this reason, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the good work of the Bully Zero Australia Foundation
Language is much more than an instrument for communication. It is also the main carrier for one's inheritance and the core source for ethnic and cultural identity. Our multilingual world would be better appreciated if we all had a greater understanding of our linguistic and cultural traditions. According to the 2011 census, there are about 418 languages spoken in Australia today. At least 151 of those languages are spoken in my electorate of Calwell. Other than English, the dominant languages are Turkish, Arabic, Italian, Greek, Maltese, Senegalese, Tamil, Maori, Aramaic and Bhutanese, just to name a few. Of course, the language of the Wurundjeripeople is often heard during our local welcome to country ceremonies. The importance of recognising International Mother Language Day is to remind us here in Australia of the enormous multilingual capacity we have and our duty to preserve it. It is also an affirmation of the right of people to speak their mother tongue free of persecution. Nowhere is this more vital than in our Indigenous languages, the mother tongues of our first people. Sadly, we find ourselves in a dire predicament where we are lamenting the decline of our Indigenous languages as they are increasingly becoming extinct.
Today I would like to talk about two major community sporting events that took place in my electorate just-recently. The first is the Keilor Gift and the other is the Iraq Unity Cup. This year I had the pleasure of attending the annual Keilor Gift, which took place on 14 February. The gift is recognised as a premier athletic sporting event in the electorate and, indeed, it has grown over the years into one of Melbourne's top athletic meetings on the professional running circuit, often used by athletes as a lead-up to the major events later in the season. The Keilor Gift is a big drawcard in the local and wider community, and this year we saw some 3,000 people attend, 670 athletes participate in the running heats and 120 wood choppers take part in the wood-chopping contests. There was more than $30,000 in prize money awarded to the champion runners of the day.
I am delighted to report to the chamber that the Broadmeadows superclinic is now officially up and running in my electorate. I had the great pleasure of opening the superclinic on Monday, 16 February. I want to boast—I think that is the word I am looking for—about this state-of-the-art facility that is now in my electorate and servicing the health needs of the people of Broadmeadows. The Hume GP Super Clinic, as it is known, is the result of a $7 million contribution by the previous federal Labor government. I was very pleased to officiate at this one-stop medical shop, which will have lots of GPs. In particular, it will have an after-hours GP service for my constituents with pathologists, a pharmacy, physiotherapists, podiatrists and occupational therapists. It has been almost three decades in which the people of Broadmeadows have fought long and hard to have, if not a hospital, certainly a significant medical infrastructure such as the Hume GP Super Clinic. So it is my great pleasure and privilege to thank the former CEO, Veronica Jamison, and the chairman of the board, Dr John Hodgson, for their incredible support and dedication and the hard work that went into ensuring that this infrastructure has become a reality in the suburb of Broadmeadows.
Today I would like to pay tribute to the passing of a great journalist, a community leader and a very dear friend of mine, Kon Nikolopoulos, who passed away on 16 January after a brave fight with a long illness. It is difficult to express the depth of the loss a community feels when it loses one of its most influential, respected and significant voices. The passing of Kon Nikolopoulos leaves a void in the Australian Greek community that will be near impossible to fill, because he was definitely one of a kind.
I really welcome the opportunity to speak on this MPI and to join my other colleagues on what is a very important issue. Child care is a very, very important issue in my electorate of Calwell. Whilst I would like to note that I understand that taxpayers, in the last financial year, have spent some $5.7 billion in supporting some one million families with the cost of child care, I also want to make the point that thousands of those families are my constituents. I cannot emphasise enough the significance and the importance of child care in Calwell, and in particular quality and affordable child care.
Each year the Hume City Council in my electorate, apart from the very successful citizenship ceremony on Australia Day, also awards its Australia Day awards, recognising outstanding individuals in our community who go above and beyond in their call of duty and support of others. At this year's Australia Day ceremony, Mr Samet Istar, a Dallas resident, who has championed cultural understanding and community in our pride was awarded the 2015 Hume Citizen of the Year. Samet Istar, apart from being a good friend of mine, is a 29-year-old young Australian, who was a founding member of the Australian Turkish University Students Association and is the current president of the Australian Turkish Institute. Samet is above all a great ambassador for multiculturalism in our community. He is involved in many events and activities. He is a volunteer presenter with the 3ZZZ radio network, and his work in promoting intercultural understanding and fostering community pride has made a great impact, particularly amongst young people.